CNN, FAA partner in drone research for newsgathering

635566677739933970-AP-FRANCE-DRONE-68569568CNN said Monday it’s working with federal regulators to advance its efforts to launch unmanned drones as a reporting tool, an experimental program that could be widely deployed by media organizations if they can work out operational and technological hurdles.

experimental program that could be widely deployed by media organizations if they can work out operational and technological hurdles.

Since last year, the cable news network has been studying the use of drones for news-gathering by teaming up with researchers at the Georgia Institute of Technology. But CNN’s announcement Monday that the network has signed a partnership research deal with the Federal Aviation Administration – formally called Cooperative Research and Development Agreement – signifies that its earlier efforts have made progress and that the FAA will seek to speed up the work needed to commercialize the technology.

The latest agreement means that CNN’s research with Georgia Tech will be folded into its partnership with the FAA, and all parties will coordinate and share data. The FAA will use collected data “to formulate a framework for various types” of droned to be used in news-gathering operations, CNN said.

“Our aim is to get beyond hobby-grade equipment and to establish what options are available and workable to produce high quality video journalism using various types of UAVs and camera setups,” said CNN senior vice president David Vigilante, in a statement. “Our hope is that these efforts contribute to the development of a vibrant ecosystem where operators of various types and sizes can safely operate in the US airspace.”

The FAA generally prohibits commercial use of drones but is working on some rules that would enable the private sector to deploy them in some settings.

“Unmanned aircraft offer news organizations significant opportunities,” FAA Administrator Michael Huerta said in a statement. “We hope this agreement with CNN and the work we are doing with other news organizations and associations will help safely integrate unmanned newsgathering technology and operating procedures into the National Airspace System.”

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